I don't like aliens in my science fiction.
From a "science" standpoint, it seems the odds are against even two advanced space-faring civilizations existing in the same section of a galaxy at the same time. Even allowing FTL travel or hyperspace or jump points doesn't improve the odds that much.
From a "fiction" standpoint, I'm writing stories for human consumption. I've found that a lot of 'alien' characters are 'humanized', given human characteristics so the reader can empathize. I'll just save time and make them human. The range of human emotion is sufficiently broad to encompass Spock and Kirk (and McCoy). And if they need a special physical characteristic? This is science fiction, they're transhuman!
I'm leaving open a special category of science fiction where a sufficiently advanced scientist world-builds aliens that make sense and a sufficiently advanced writer makes them interesting This category is specifically designed for "The Mote In God's Eye. (And of course setting up this category means that I am now obligated to try and write a science fiction story with aliens in it.)
I love aliens in my Space Opera.
Competing sub-galactic empires, spaceships, crazy plots, morality plays, political scheming, magic, sword-fights. Hot Alien Babes and Dudes. It's Space, people! And it's an ocean and there are space dogfights and crowded asteroid belts. But I'm still drawing a line at Stealth In Space. That's right out, no matter how soft it gets. Unless it's funny.
Go get 'em, space-tiger. Go get 'em dead.
The Huns are attacking! Oh the terror! They came on horseback and on foot to pillage and to plunder. We sent our armies in an array to meet them on the field, and with the dust of hardest fighting clear, we all looked at the sight with wonder. Why were we so worried, for what were these mere primitives in the face of our light-bows?
Firing a projectile as long as I am wide, easily piercing the armor from both or either side. Then digging deep down, into the corpse's flesh, with a pain most elegant: the soul to find, caress.
500 words? Yes
Book "Lived Too Long To Die"
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Reading - TBD